I am often asked if it is appropriate to practice yoga when sick with a cold or some sort of energy-zapping bug. Some experts are convinced that rest is the best medicine when not feeling well, but practicing a little bit of yoga when you are sick can be beneficial.
The following is an explanation of why yoga can help restore your health while you are fighting an illness.
Yoga stimulates the immune system by flushing swollen lymph nodes and circulating white blood cells throughout the body. Gentle inversions such as downward dog help to create a small amount of pressure on the lymphatic system so fluids can flow freely and help the body fight infection.
The key point to remember is that too much yoga is not going to be beneficial. The body uses a lot of energy when it is sick, and stealing some of that energy so you can do a full yoga practice is not advised. Practice just a few poses, and make sure you have a lot of time to rest in between each pose. If your body is telling you to stop, honor its request and take a break. (more…)
One of my favorite things to do when I’m sick is take a long, hot shower without the bathroom fan on. A hot shower can loosen muscles, relax the mind and clear congestion. New research is suggesting that steam inhalation may do more than loosen mucous and congested sinuses, it could actually provide a cure for the common cold.
Most colds are caused by the rhinovirus which is rendered inactive at temperatures above 109 degrees Fahrenheit. Logically, one can assume that steam treatments, which raise the temperature in the nose to the required 109 degrees, would kill any rhinovirus that is present. There are some studies that back up that logic but, unfortunately, the results are mixed. Only three out of six studies showed supporting evidence that steam inhalation can cure colds. According to The New York Times, the remaining three studies “found either a worsening of symptoms or no change at all in antibody levels or shedding of viruses.”
The flu and colds are caused by viruses and are somewhat impossible to avoid due to constant human contact. This type of illness is so common during the winter months because the body is busy trying to keep itself warm. The immune system isn’t as strong, thus becoming more susceptible to infection and viruses. Frequent hand washing, keeping hands away from face and mouth, and avoiding contact with those who are infected are the safest ways to escape the illness.
Exercise, on the other hand, has been proven to improve normal body functioning as well as improving sleep patterns- both of which are vital to boost the immune system. By consistently exercising, your stamina and strong body will be able to fight off the viruses better and faster. Exercising too much can have the adverse affects by weakening the body and allowing it to be more prone to sickness. Exercising after you become sick is unlikely to change the course of the illness as well. Below are the best ways to help prevent becoming ill during this winter season.
I am not a fan of cold weather in general. I wear layers – I mean two pairs of pants – at least December through February and often longer. Yet, I discovered last year that I really enjoy winter running, maybe even more than running in the summer. Running in falling snow is beautiful and peaceful. Since your body is working more while jogging, I’ve found I am more warm than when I walk the dog wearing more layers and heavy clothing. My friend just purchased some Lululemon gear he says is extremely warm; I would love to review it for you, but it is outside my price range. Luckily, it should cost very little to outfit yourself to run all winter long.
The best place to start with any running list is the shoes. I wear regular running shoes. You will just want to ensure that they have sufficient support and traction as you will likely be running on slick or uneven ground. If you run with your dog, you may want to leave him or her at home unless they are well-trained or unable to pull you, or you may end up being pulled off your path due to the slick snow or ice. I have run a 5k with a Great Dane, but he outweighs me and is too excitable for more than winter walks.
Maruchy Lachance is president of Running Ninja!, a lifestyle brand for runners by runners. Running Ninja! offers a wide variety of apparel and gifts for runners to keep you happy and inspired while you’re on the run.
As we approach the winter season many of us are finding ourselves battling annoying coughs, sniffles and runny noses. Sickness can often sideline our commitment to a healthy lifestyle. As tempting as it may be to wallow and indulge, your best bet is to stay the course while limiting your fitness routine, being mindful not to compromise your journey on the road to recovery. (more…)